There’s been a whole slew of posts on the recent evicting of Tamils from Colombo with both pro and con views on the action by the government. In general, the effect of this extreme action has been one of muted criticism by other governments (but criticism nonetheless), although Human Rights groups have been vociferous in their absolute condemnation of the decision. A majority of the bloggers on kottu believe that the action is inhumane, a gross violation of the constitution and of individual human rights and a stupid move by Rajapakse and his advisors. A few bloggers had opposite views with regard to the violation of human rights, preferring to see it as a necessary move for the protection of the city and those within it. But although the bloggers that wrote justifying the move were relatively few, the commentors that made no bones about their support of Rajapakse’s move were many and more than a few of them were strident in their views. The term ‘ethnic cleansing’ was also bandied about generously, which led to exercises in semantics, advice on its appropriate use and the inevitable comparisons with the Tigers’ ethnic cleansing of the north and east. The there was also someone whose research unearthed data on ethnic cleansing of the Muslims and Tamils by Sinhalese in the hill country earlier in the last century.

‘Patriotism’ also took a beating, with some who viewed being ‘patriotic’ as somehow being the privilege of the majority and so anyone that dared to think differently to what the government decides is best is, in their view, being ‘unpatriotic’. My own view on ‘patriotism’ was discussed in an earlier post (‘Patriotism’ on November 4, 2006) and it opened with the following quotes:

Samuel Johnson’s quote on ‘patriotism’ is perhaps the most famous of them all “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. Theodore Roosevelt, one of the better loved American presidents said in 1918, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is also morally treasonable to the American public”. Mark Twain said, “Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You can not shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let them label you as they may”. Howard Thurman – “During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism”. And finally, Hermann Goering (he should know!) “Naturally the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country”.

So it seems to me that the first question for those who see themselves as being ‘patriots’ is to decide if the president is doing a good job at governance with the Chinthanaya that was professed to be the way that things would go should he win the election. Never mind the fact that much of what was professed has not seen the light of day, are the bloated cabinet, the appointment of his brothers to positions of the highest authority, the attitude to international allies in the fight against terrorism, the decisions to build the airport at Wiralwila disregarding the immeasurable damage to the environment in general and the wildlife in particular and several other decisions that haven’t even been passed in parliament, good for the country? If they do not think that this is good governance on the part of Rajapakse, will they say so? Or would that be considered by them to be ‘unpatriotic’?

It seemed to me that many of the ‘patriots’ assumed that the folk that opposed the bussing of Tamils out of Colombo were somehow condoners of Prabhakaran and the Tigers and didn’t write a word about the eviction of the Muslims from the area in their control. I have no idea if this assumption is true or false, but somehow it doesn’t seem to me to be a logical assumption. I, for one, thought that the recent eviction was inhumane, illegal and a very stupid move on the part of the government, but I also think that Prabhakaran is someone who needs to prolong the war as much as possible to suit his own ends and hang on to power – much like Rajapakse. I also think that Prabhakaran can’t very well handle peace, as he is wanted by India for murder and if the Indians don’t get him, someone else will as he has murdered so many other Tamils in his quest for power that it is most likely revenge will find a way.

As one commentor pointed out, not only is the country divided on ethnic grounds, it is also divided among the Sinhalese. And I would agree. It seems that our only hope for a better future would be for sanity to prevail and for the people to decide if the country is being governed desirably and to make their voices heard – somehow.

So now what?

Advertisements